Leveling Up: Celebrating Women Who Reshaped the Gaming World

Computer games for guys only? Lol. Boy, bye. According to the Women in Games Association, 50% of gamers globally are women. 

However, in the vast realm of the industry, remarkable women don’t always get the spotlight they deserve. Classic.

Many of them broke immense barriers within the industry and inspired countless others to achieve their dreams in an area once considered non-inclusive. So let’s get to know and celebrate a few of these game-changing *ba dum tsss* women.

Mabel Addis: The Pioneer of Text-Based Adventures

Before there were graphics, there were words, and Mabel Addis knew how to use them. In 1964, she leveraged her background as a school teacher to create The Sumerian Game, a text-based educational adventure that took players on a journey through ancient civilizations. 

As the first woman computer game designer, Addis didn’t just write the book on educational gaming—she coded it, setting the stage for generations of games that entertain and educate.

Kim Swift: Portal

That’s more or less what Kim Swift did, albeit in the virtual realm, when she helped to create Portal. 

As a level designer and team leader at Valve Corporation, Swift transformed her student project Narbacular Drop into Portal, a game that challenges players’ perceptions and problem-solving skills in a way that was, quite literally, groundbreaking. 

Swift’s work had turned her into something of an unnamed legend in gaming history, proving that often, the best innovations come from thinking outside the (companion) box.

Kellee Santiago: Crafting Worlds That Connect

All while keeping an aim to evoke deep emotional connections through games, Kellee Santiago co-founded thatgamecompany—a venture that would go on to wield some of the most poetic and beautifully immersive games within the industry.

As the former president of thatgamecompany, Santiago’s approach to game design emphasizes the power of gaming as a medium to connect and communicate, bringing players together in shared experiences that resonate deeply and linger long after the screen goes dark.

Erin Robinson Swink: Gravity Ghost 

From the indie game scene emerges Erin Robinson Swink, a Canadian game designer whose work on Gravity Ghost soared beyond traditional gaming boundaries. 

Named one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company in 2011, Swink has carved out a niche that blends whimsical storytelling with engaging gameplay, proving that indie games can float alongside their AAA counterparts with grace and gravitas.

Corrinne Yu: Powering the Pixels

Behind the breathtaking landscapes and fluid dynamics of your favorite games lies the genius of programmers like Corrinne Yu. Known for her work on King’s Quest and a myriad of top-tier 3D rendering engines,

Yu’s contributions to the industry are the digital equivalent of wizardry. From QuickDraw 3D to Unreal Engine 3, Yu has been instrumental in pushing the graphical boundaries of gaming, ensuring that players are not just observers but fully immersed in worlds beyond their imagination.

These women have leveled up the gaming world and inspire future generations with their stories.

A big thank you to Lithuanian Game Developers Association for helping prepare this article.